Sigourney Weaver Trained With Elite Military Divers for Avatar Underwater Stunts

Consummate actress and ultimate badass Sigourney Weaver knows that, at 71, she is what Hollywood considers a relic. After all, this is the same industry where 40-year-old actresses are constantly relegated to mom roles.
Sigourney Weaver learned to hold her breath underwater for 6 minutes for Avatar 4 photos
Sigourney Weaver does her own stunts for the four upcoming Avatar sequelsSigourney Weaver does her own stunts for the four upcoming Avatar sequelsSigourney Weaver does her own stunts for the four upcoming Avatar sequels
But she’s not letting either Hollywood or her age limit what she can do in order to deliver the best performance possible. This includes doing her own underwater stunts, which she did for the two Avatar sequels she’s worked on, with James Cameron at the helm.

Back in September, a couple of shots of Sigourney doing stuntwork for Avatar went viral, which was the intent from the start, based on the caption reading, “Sigourney Weaver never shies away from a stunt, not even when it's underwater!”

In a new interview with The New York Times, the actress says that she had double motivation for doing those stunts: first and foremost, because she doesn’t like to put limits on herself by saying there’s something she can do, and secondly, because she didn’t want people to think she was too old to do it.

“I don’t really say to myself, ‘Well, you can’t do this.’ Or, ‘You can’t do that.’ Let me at it! And we’ll see,” the actress explains. “I had some concerns. But that’s what the training was for. And I really wanted to do it. I didn’t want anyone to think, ‘Oh, she’s old, she can’t do this.’”

So, she trained with elite military divers in Key West, Florida and Hawaii, and was eventually able to hold her breath underwater for six minutes. It was essential that she do so for as long as possible, she explains: the longer actors could hold their breath underwater (without squinting or clamping their mouth shut), the more time Cameron had to shoot a scene. Oh, and she reveals Avatar 2 will explore the underwater world of Pandora, so it sounds like they had to shoot a lot of underwater scenes.

Shooting took place in a gigantic water tank. Sigourney and the other cast members had weights tied around their waist and would submerge after an extra gulp of oxygen. Professional divers would then rush them out to the surface at regular intervals, and bring them back under.

The first Avatar sequel is, as of this moment, scheduled to come out in December 2022, followed by more installments in 2024, in 2026 and 2028.


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